Story at a glance
- Kid Quick, or “Jess Chambers,” is a new nonbinary character in the DC Comics Universe.
- The character, who has super speed, is based on a younger version of the Flash.
- Superhero franchises have begun incorporating more gender-diverse characters in recent years.
Growing up, little boys and girls learned to attach themselves to gendered characters like Superman and Catwoman. But for the first time, they’ll have a nonbinary option: Kid Quick.
“In the DC superhero universe we’ve got a superfast character, Kid Flash. And I thought about how ‘Kid’ can really be any gender,” writer Ivan Cohen told NBC News. “There are all these choices we can make — why don’t we do something besides what we would have made up if it was 1965?”
The new teen superhero with super speed makes their debut in “DC’s Merry Multiverse,” a holiday-themed comic book anthology out on Dec. 9. Comic rival Marvel was criticized for a similar attempt earlier this year with the Psychic Twins, named "Snowflake" and "Safespace," nonbinary characters that writer Daniel Kibblesmith named for "terms that get thrown around on the internet that they don't see as derogatory." But the reference was callous, some argued, and the characters received a less-than-enthusiastic welcome.
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But other superhero and sci-fi universes have introduced gender-nonconforming characters with more success, including Suicide Squad's The Aerie, a nonbinary antihero, and Star Trek's Adira, played by nonbinary actor Blu del Barrio.
“That’s always a concern — you don’t want to just disrupt things for the sake of disrupting,” Cohen told NBC. “Kid Quick’s identity is baked-in enough that another character just asks, ‘Are they seeing anyone?’ and it’s understood.”
LGBTQ+ advocates seem to be on board. A spokesperson for the LGBTQ advocacy group GLAAD told NBC the creators were “helping to reach new audiences that may not normally be exposed to these identities, which has a profound impact on accelerating acceptance and understanding.”
Kid Quick, whose "Earth name" is Jess Chambers, isn't the only nontraditional character on Teen Justice, a new super-team on Earth-11, Cohen told Screenrant. Other characters are "gender-flipped" versions of mainstream DC Universe heroes, such as Aquagirl and Supergirl, while Klarienne the Witch Girl is inspired by "a Kirby creation."
Kid Quick is based on a younger version of The Flash and will reportedly take the character’s mantle during the “Future State” storyline coming to DC comic books in January and February.
“Earth 11 is such a blank page that making it more diverse didn’t require a lot of shoehorning. No one is going to run to their back issues and complain we contradicted something,” Cohen told NBC. “If someone has a problem that a Flash from an alternative universe is nonbinary, there’s a lot of other comics they can read.”
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